Stories for the Children |
Questions – Part 4
for Part 3)
learned about the day, date and time of the coronation ceremony. The
astrologer within him awoke. He became suspicious about the time.
Something was wrong, he felt. He started studying the grahas
prevailing at the time of the ceremony. His suspicion was not unfounded.
The time fixed for Varun's coronation was the most inauspicious one. He
had no doubt now, but was not in a position to pronounce the truth. He
tried to keep his calm though he was highly disturbed.
On the day of coronation, he accompanied Guru
Vasudeva to the place, where ceremony was to be held. They occupied their
seats in the front row. Ground was over flowing with people. The royal
family was yet to arrive.
The king, queen and the prince arrived in a royal carriage. All of them ascended on to the dais
specially erected for the purpose. People shouted jayjaykar in
praise of the king, the queen and the prince. The Mahamantri gave details
of the ceremony.
The jyotshi in Murlidharan, kept pricking his
conscience. He was in a fix. Time was running out. He could not decide
what to do? In the anxious state of mind, he unknowingly pressed
Vasudeva's hand. Vasudeva turned to him. Murlidharan was sweating
profusely. Guru felt, Murlidharan wanted to say something but was not able
to speak. He patted him gently and asked him to speak out. Murlidharan
revealed that the time chosen for the coronation was most inauspicious as
per his calculations. Guru Vasudeva was perplexed. How could the
illiterate Murlidharan make astrological calculations? Murlidharan pleaded
with him to convey his message to the king. Guru Vasudeva was in a fix. He
could not decide what to do? On Murlidharan's insistence, he decided to
present him before the king.
Before the Raj-jyotshi could stand up to announce
commencement of the coronation ceremony, Vasudeva got up and
climbed on to the dais. He requested the king to grant Murlidharan an
audience immediately. Having high regards for Guru Vasudeva, the king
Murlidharan was still sweating. He requested the
King to postpone the ceremony as the time was very inauspicious. On
hearing this, the King and the Raj-jyotshi were taken aback. Raj-jyotshi
refuted Murlidharan's claim. The King was confused. He asked Murlidharan,
" Who are you and on what basis do you refute our Raj-jyotshi's
calculations." Murlidharan replied, " Your Majesty! My real name
is Narsimha. I cannot tell you anything more about myself now. But I stand
by my prediction. The time calculated by your Raj-jyotshi is most
inauspicious. Coronation of Rajkumar Varun at this time, will be
disastrous." "But how do we believe your words?" asked the
Mahamantri. Narsimha said, "A little before the designated time, Sun
will be completely eclipsed. The country will be engulfed into complete
darkness. There will be no light for quite some time. If this happens, my
prediction should be taken as correct". "And if it does not
happen?", asked the King. "In that case I offer my head",
replied Narsimha. The King announced, "Let our Raj-jyotshi keep
everything ready for the ceremony. If the Sun is eclipsed, the ceremony
will automatically stand postponed. And if it does not happen, the
coronation will proceed as per programme and Narsimha shall be beheaded
immediately after the ceremony."
King's decision was hailed
by everybody. Narsimha was held captive by the guards. Guru Vasudeva was
standing beside him. He was feeling pity for poor Narsimha. "How can
Narsimha make such a prediction and prove the Raj-jyotshi wrong",
thought he. He was sure Narsimha would face death.
But things happened exactly as Narsimha had
predicted. Soon, the Sun was completely eclipsed. There was complete
darkness. Nothing around was visible. The king and the queen and all
others were terrified. The crowd stood mesmerised. This phenomenon lasted
a few minutes. Immediately, after the Sun shone again, the king stood up
and embraced Narsimha. Vasudeva was glad but confused. Raj-jyotshi had
vanished from the dais to escape ensuing punishment. Narsimha was
designated as the new Raj-jyotshi. He was asked to present himself in the
Raj Bhawan next day, for a formal ceremony.
Vasudeva and Narsimha returned to the Ashram.
Vasudeva was still in shock. He could not make out as to how an illiterate
person could make such an accurate prediction. He did not ask Narsimha any
questions. Instead he decided to put the truth before the King.
The following day, Vasudeva accompanied Narsimha to
the Raj Mahal. Before the formal ceremony, Vasudeva approached the king
and said, "Your Majesty! I am greatly pleased to have my dear
Narsimha appointed as Raj-jyotshi. But before this is done, It is my duty
to tell you some facts about him. Narsimha has been with me for the last
fifteen years. He is illiterate and does not know a word about astrology.
How could he work out the exact happening, is still a mystery to me? If he
really is an astrologer, then why did he lie?
Ashram is a sacred place for bringing up the most noble breed of
children. How can one lie while seeking admission to such a place. If
Narsimha is really lied except under most compelling circumstances, I
request your majesty to give him a befitting punishment."
The king looked at Narsimha and asked him to
divulge the truth. Narsimha stood with his head low and eyes filled with
tears. He said, "Yes, Your Majesty! I am a liar. I deserve to be
punished. But I would like to reveal the circumstances which compelled me
to hide the truth." Narsimha then narrated his story to the king. At
the end, Narsimha said, "I had to lie out of compulsion. Had I not
lied, I would have been caught by my king and punished. I am however still
surprised, how could my prediction go wrong in his case?"
The king did not pronounce his judgement. He
ordered that Narsimha be kept in custody till a final decision was taken.
• • •
"That was Narsimha's
story", Guru Vasudeva
concluded. He said to Ananta, "The king will take a decision soon. I
am myself in pain, to see Narsimha in custody. But I am helpless. Lying is
a sin and in an Ashram, it is the biggest sin."
• • •
When the king ordered
Narsimha's custody, he was not sure of the facts. He could not make out as
to why Narsimha's prediction in case of his own king had gone wrong. He
counselled with his aides, but they could also provide no clue.
One day, the king discussed the issue with the
queen. She was also worried for Narsimha. After all, he had saved them
from a disaster. She thought for a while and said, "Why don't we call
the villager Sehdeva, whose wife had also delivered a baby that day".
"What can he do", asked the king. "I think the answer lies
there only", replied the queen.
The king sent an emissary to Narsimha's village to
fetch Sehdeva. When he came, the queen asked him if he knew the astrologer
Narsimha? Sehdeva was sore
with that name. He told the queen, "I don't want to talk about him.
He made a wrong prediction. He said that my child would die the same day.
My daughter is very much alive. She has read all Vedas and has become an
epithet of knowledge."
The queen got the answer. Narsimha was really a
great astrologer. She told the king, "It is evident that the timing
of the birth of two babies were messed up. So horoscopes also changed
hands. One meant for the king was delivered to Sehdeva and that meant for
Sehdeva was given to the king. There was nothing wrong with the
The king was delighted. Narsimha was released and
brought before the king. He was accorded a warm reception by all. Guru
Vasudeva was called to the palace. He was relieved to know that Narsimha
had only lied under very compelling circumstances. He sent a message for
Narsimha's wife Rohini, his son Gautama and Ananta. On the same day,
Narsimha was formally appointed as Raj-jyotshi. He touched the feet of the
king, the queen and Guru Vasudeva in reverence.
• • •
Ananta got the answer to
his third question: What is that which one can not hide for long? And the
answer was 'One's roots'.
Ananta had answers for all the three questions now.
His mission was complete but he still had some time left at his disposal.
He desired to seek more knowledge from Guru Vasudeva. So he decided to
stay back in the Ashram.
In less than one year's time, Ananta read and
memorised all vedas and other religious scriptures. He also got acquainted
with the codes and customs concerning worldly affairs. He now sought Guru
Vasudeva's permission to
leave. Guru, with a heavy heart allowed him to go. All boys of the Ashram
were grieved. And so was Gautama, who had found a good companion in Ananta.
But Ananta had no option.
While on his way back, Ananta thought, "Did I
not commit a sin by not revealing my identity to Guru Vasudeva?" He
decided to seek its answer from his Rajguru on reaching his palace.
• • •
Ananta was back in Saraspur.
It was almost a year after he had left Mihira. When he reached the
palatial house of Mihira, he was shocked to find that the house now
belonged to Kalpaka, the rich man who lived across Saraswati. Ananta
enquired from the dwarpal who was previously in Mihira's
employment, as to how did the house transfer to his new master. Dwarpal
replied, "Mihira became very greedy. In his thirst for more riches,
he challenged Kalpaka to a game of dice. Kalpaka accepted the challenge.
Mihira lost the first game and with that some riches. Kalpaka wanted him
to withdraw. But Mihira insisted on continuing with the game. In the hope
of winning back, he kept on playing game after game till he lost
everything. His wives abandoned him when he turned pauper.
"And where is Mihira?", asked Ananta. "He has
started afresh, carving stones at his old place", replied dwarpal.
Ananta went to the river bank to meet Mihira. He
found Mihira engrossed in carving a block of stone. Mihira did not see
Ananta till he came very close. Mihira looked up and greeted Ananta with a
radiant and smiling face. Ananta had never before seen such a smile on his
face. Ananta sat down. But even before he could speak, Mihira said,
"Look, don't ask me any questions. I have come a long way since you
met me first. I craved for riches and I was able to achieve all that I
wanted. But there was no contentment. At every step, I felt inferior to
yet another rich man. I wanted to be the wealthiest. My first wife, who
had supported me all through the bad phase of my life, left me. I am sure,
even if I had succeeded in getting all of Kalpaka's wealth, I would not
have been satisfied. I have realised there is no end to this lust. It is
only the contentment that brings lasting pleasure".
Ananta then corrected his answer to the first question: 'One's
lasting pleasure does not lie in riches. It lies in one's contentment.'
Mihira requested Ananta to stay with him for a day,
not as his worker, but as a friend. Ananta stayed back and tasted the
delicious food cooked by Mihira.
Ananta left Saraspur next morning. He had a
fortnight before his time limit of five years would elapse. He felt sure
that his answers to the three questions were correct. On his way to
Arunagiri, he had to fulfill his promise of visiting Anusuya at Chandri.
• • •
When Ananta reached Chandri,
he was shocked to see Anusuya in a pitiable
condition. His son had contracted an illness which was unheard of in the
region. His legs were first paralysed, then his arms and in about a year's
time, his entire body was affected. All
treatment given to him had failed. The child lay motionless on the floor.
Anusuya had spent all his wealth and had also sold off his land for
treatment of the child. Someone suggested that the Tantrik who had
earlier cured Pushpalata, be called. But Anusuya felt helpless as he had
nothing left to pay the tantrik.
Ananta was in a shocked state of mind. He could not
see Anusuya and Pushpalata in agony. He wanted to console them, so he
stayed with them.
With each passing day, child's condition worsened.
One morning they found that the child had lost his sight. Pushpalata
screamed in anguish and threw her body at the feet of her house deity.
Ananta became restless. He could not bear any more with Anusuya's and
Pushpalata's pitiable state. He sent for the Tantrik.
Tantrik came and examined the child. He was
confident that he could cure the child in a day. But he would not be able
to restore his vision. Ananta asked
him his fee, and also if there was a possibility of restoring the child's
eyesight? Tantrik asked for a hefty sum as his fees. Ananta promised to
pay him the fee only after the child was cured of paralysis. The Tantrik
informed told him that the child's vision could be restored only if
someone donated his eyes. "But who would donate his eyes",
Tantrik went ahead with the treatment. By Sunset,
the child had completely
recovered from the paralysis. But he had no vision. Pushpalata embraced
As soon as the Tantrik stood up to leave, Pushpalata in a very calm
and composed manner caught him by his hand.
With a strange smile on her face, she looked directly into the
Tantrik's eyes and said, "You can't leave before you carve out my
eyes and restore my child's sight." And the Tantrik did it.
To be continued.